Source: WFT’s Scherff to COVID list, DT returns

  • Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
  • Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Football Team will place All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff on the reserve/COVID-19 list, dealing another blow to an already ravaged roster, a source told ESPN. But Washington will see the return of another defensive lineman, putting that group at near-full strength.

Washington will activate defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, the source said, making him the fifth defensive linemen to come off the list in the last three days. That means Washington will have its top three defensive tackles, as well as its top three ends still on the active roster, available for Tuesday’s game at the Philadelphia Eagles. Reserve tackle Tim Settle remains on the list; end Chase Young is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Fortifying the defensive line was important as Philadelphia leads the NFL in rushing yards per game. Washington also likes to use a lot of five-man fronts, so having its top players back will help.

Washington still has 15 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team’s total players on the list had been 23 on Friday.

Both Washington and Philadelphia are 6-7 and currently a half-game behind New Orleans for the final playoff spot. The Saints beat Washington earlier this year, but lost to the Eagles.

Losing Scherff, though, will be a big blow to Washington’s offensive line. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2020 and has made four Pro Bowls.

Not only is he Washington’s best offensive lineman, but he also can play center in an emergency. Washington has lost its top three centers and will likely start second-year Keith Ismael at the position Tuesday.

Washington could start Saahdiq Charles in Scherff’s place. Charles has made one start this season, though it came at right tackle. He started one game at guard as a rookie last season, lasting two plays before being injured. Washington recently signed guard/center Jamil Douglas, a fourth-round pick in 2015. He has made 11 career starts at right guard, including five with Tennessee in 2019.

Washington still has uncertainty at quarterback with starter Taylor Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen still on the COVID list. Their statuses likely will come down to testing Tuesday, one source said. Washington could end up starting Garrett Gilbert, who was signed on Friday off New England’s practice squad. Kyle Shurmur has been on Washington’s practice squad since Sept. 13.

Gilbert, who played two seasons under Washington’s current staff when it coached in Carolina, has started one game in the NFL — last season with Dallas. But that experience could be the difference in him starting.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said Sunday that the postponement helped Gilbert.

“I think it’s [also] helping the coaches get a good handle and feel for what he does really well and what he can adapt to and adjust with,” Rivera said. “It’s also given him an opportunity to watch a little bit more film and see a little bit more as to, to what to expect from them on the defensive side.”

Without its top two quarterbacks, Washington would have to rely on its run game offensively. Minus Scherff, that becomes more difficult. Since Week 10, Washington has run the ball 170 times. Washington has gone 4-1 during that period. Only three teams have run the ball more during that stretch, and all of them played Sunday.

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